Fort Worth

Judge Rules Fort Worth Hospital Can Remove Infant From Life Support

Judge sides with hospital that plans to remove 11-month-old girl from life support against her mother's wishes

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A judge is giving a Fort Worth hospital the green light to remove an 11-month-old girl from life support despite her family's protest.

Joe Nixon, the attorney representing the family of Tinslee Lewis, said the child's mother Trinity Lewis was disappointed in the decision.

"She wants her baby to live," Nixon said. "We believe that under the United States and Texas Constitution that it is Trinity’s decision and not the hospital’s."

A notice of appeal has been filed by the family as of Thursday. Nixon added, they are also filing an 'emergency motion to stay'. If granted, it would prevent the hospital from removing life-sustaining care while the appeal is ongoing.

Lewis has not left the hospital since her premature birth and has been on a ventilator since she went into respiratory arrest in July, according to hospital staff.

The child suffers from a heart defect and has undergone three open-heart surgeries. She also has chronic lung disease and severe chronic high blood pressure, and the hospital has argued that doctors believe she is suffering.

Wini King, a spokesperson for Cook Children's, said Lewis' case was emotional and difficult for everyone involved, including the medical staff taking care of her.

A judge is giving a Fort Worth hospital the green light to remove an 11-month-old girl from life support despite her family’s protest. Joe Nixon, the attorney representing the family of Tinslee Lewis, said the child’s mother Trinity Lewis was disappointed in the decision.

"But I’m going to be quite honest with you, at some point…Tinslee is going to make a choice. Her little body is so tired, and she’s been through so much," King told reporters Thursday. "What she’s showing us is that she’s suffering. She is in pain. She is sedated. She is paralyzed. She can’t move and we’re trying to keep her as quiet as we can so that she doesn’t get any worse. We’re doing things to her. Not for her."

The hospital will honor their agreement with Lewis' family and allow them to continue to search for another medical over the next seven days, but they will not make any 'sudden' or 'out of the blue' decisions, King said.

Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth intends to remove Tinslee Lewis, 11-months, from life support despite her family’s opposition.

The Cook Children’s staff had planned to remove Tinslee from life support in early November, after invoking Texas' "10-day rule," which can be employed when a family disagrees with doctors who say life-sustaining treatment should be stopped. The law stipulates if the hospital's ethics committee agrees with doctors, treatment can be withdrawn after 10 days if a new provider cannot be found to take the patient.

A mother fighting for the life of her 9-month old baby has been given more time to do what some people have called impossible.

The child’s family requested a temporary injunction to keep Tinslee alive until another hospital that would agree to care for the little girl could be identified.

Nixon told NBC 5, the 'real culprit' of the case was the statute.

"There are tens of dozens of people every year in Texas whom this statute is applied," he said. "It’s frightening in that it removes the ability to make the decision for what care will be provided to patients from that patien. It shifts it over to the doctor."

Last month, Trinity Lewis, said she believes her daughter will continue to fight.

"This isn't Tinslee's first rodeo. She's made it this far. I know she's going to continue to fight for her life," Lewis said.

At the hearing last month, Dr. Jay Duncan, one of Tinslee's physicians, described the girl's complex conditions and Cook Children's efforts to treat her, which have included about seven surgeries. The cardiac intensive care doctor said that for the first five months of Tinslee's life doctors hoped she might one day at least be able to go home.

But Duncan said there came a point when doctors determined they had run out of surgical and clinical options, and that treatment was no longer benefiting Tinslee. Duncan said last month that the girl would likely die within half a year, and noted the hospital has made "extraordinary" efforts to find another facility for her.

"She is in pain. Changing a diaper causes pain. Suctioning her breathing tube causes pain. Being on the ventilator causes pain," he said.

Duncan said there had been "many, many" conversations with Tinslee's family about her dire condition.

"We care a lot about Tinslee," Duncan said. "We care a lot about her family."

In response to the order Thursday, Texas governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a joint statement in support of the Lewis family. They added, the state was prepared to take the case to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

Copyright NBC 5 News and The Associated Press
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